Unlike child support, Spousal Support (sometimes called alimony) is not determined based upon preset factors or with the use of a calculation. Instead, Spousal Support is subject to many factors including but not limited to the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties and the relative earning capacity of the parties.
Once a divorce petition has been filed, the months following the beginning of the case can be difficult for the non-working spouse, or the spouse that does not have the primary income in the marriage. This is because some parties will not voluntarily support their spouse during the pendency of the case. The disadvantaged party may have to file for temporary orders to ask the court to order the payment of support while the parties are waiting for their case to become final.
Sometimes parties will try to reach agreements without the aid of an attorney. This can be beneficial in some situations, but in all situations it advisable to at least get advice from an attorney before signing any documents that waive your right to spousal support or that commit you to either paying too much support or receiving too little under all the circumstances of your situation.
Figuring Out Alimony
If the court is tasked with figuring out the amount, type and durations of spousal support, it will not make an attempt to equalize the income of the parties. This means the court will not make an award simply to make one spouse’s income equal to their spouse’s income. Rather, the court will attempt to weigh multiple factors to arrive at an amount of support that is fair and will allow the parties to live in a way similar to the way they did before the divorce.
It might be tempting either to pay too much or accept too little spousal support in an attempt to keep things civil. There is nothing wrong with keeping things civil in a divorce, especially if you share children together. But, if you are making decisions under the emotional stress of a divorce that at the time make sense, you want those decisions to still feel fair when you have healed a little over the passage of time. A good lawyer can help and support you by providing you with advice regarding your rights, and evaluate your unique circumstances to help you make a considered decision.
For example, alimony may be claimed as a deduction on the paying spouse’s tax returns, but will then be attributed to the receiving spouse as income. A spouse who accepts an amount of spousal support without the advice of an attorney may not understand the possibility of having to pay taxes on the spousal support they receive.
Have an Experienced Attorney Determine Your Spousal Support
At Trillium Law, we have the experience to be able to evaluate your situation, based on the information you provide to us, and help you make the best decision for your individual case.
We can help you understand a reasonable range for initial spousal support awards, including whether you might be entitled to transitional, compensatory, and/or maintenance support. We will explain when and how spousal support can be terminated, modified or possibly extended.